Sviatoslav’s family still lives in Lviv, where his father operates a small grocery store. An older brother has joined thousands of Ukrainians who have fled to Poland in recent weeks, taking his wife and two children to the relative safety of that country. Svyatoslav’s 10-year-old brother stayed in Lviv with his parents.
According to a Reuters press release, Lviv is just 40 miles from the border with Poland, and the small town has become a transit point for Ukrainians fleeing the conflict from the east, south and center of the country. .
“You never know what might happen,” Tetyana told me of the conflict, now centered in the western half of Ukraine. “It’s a bit scary and we all pray for protection. When they fall asleep they don’t know if they’ll wake up to hear bombs.
Tetyana, who turns 28 this summer, and Svyatoslav, 31, met when they attended the same Pentecostal church in Lviv as teenagers. They married in 2012, two years before he arrived in the United States, and they have three children, an eight-year-old son and two daughters, aged six and four. Children learn to speak Ukrainian, Russian and English.
Tetyana and Sviatoslav lived in California as newlyweds, but returned to their native country for brief visits in 2015 and again in 2017. Sviatoslav’s family is content to stay in Ukraine, for now.